Search Cool of the Wild Start typing...

Best Wetsuits For Surfing In All Conditions In 2021

Surfer wearing wetsuit in the sea
 

If you happen to love surfing then there is a strong possibility that you spend a lot of time wearing a wetsuit, unless you’re lucky enough to surf in tropical seas, that is! But like most outdoor gear and clothing, not all wetsuits are made equal. And choosing the best wetsuit for you is crucial when it comes to staying warm, comfortable and on top of your game in the water.

Most people see wetsuits as cold, uncomfortable necessities, but the reality is very different. If you find the best wetsuit for you it’ll transform your surfing experience, and the next time you head to the waves you’ll be looking forward to putting it on! In this article you will learn about the important factors to look out for when choosing a wetsuit and we will look at some of the best wetsuits for surfing in different conditions, that are currently available in 2021. Whether you’re a total beginner or are looking to replace your worn out suit, you’ll find something suitable on our list.

Summary of the best wetsuits for surfing in 2021

Disclaimer: We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

ProductMen's or women'sZip typeThickness
Patagonia R3 Yulex Front-Zip Full SuitMen'sChest4.5/3.5 mm
Vissla 7 Seas 2-2 SS Full SuitMen'sChest2/2 mm
Finisterre Nieuwland 3e Yulex WetsuitMen'sChest3.5/2.5 mm
O'NEILL Psycho Tech Chest Zip Full WetsuitMen'sChest4.5/3.5 mm
Sisstrevolution Summer Seas 3/2 Print BZ FullWomen'sBack3/2 mm
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 4/3mm Chest Zip Full WetsuitWomen'sChest4/3 mm
XCEL Axis Hooded 5/4mm FullsuitWomen'sChest5/4 mm
Roxy 2/2 mm Syncro Back-Zip SpringsuitWomen'sBack2/2 mm

What to look for when choosing a wetsuit for surfing

There are a lot of wetsuits out there, some good, some bad and some brilliant. Everyone has a different set of requirements for their wetsuit and written below are the main factors to consider when searching for the best surfing wetsuit. But firstly, it is crucial to check that the wetsuit you are considering is designed for surfing. There are many other wetsuits for different purposes and you don’t want to suddenly realise your new wetsuit is built for deep-sea diving when you’re mid surf!

Thickness / warmth

This is perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a surfing wetsuit. The main purpose of a wetsuit is to keep you safely warm in the water. This means it should be warm enough for the temperature you plan to surf in. The thickness of the wetsuit dictates the coldest temperature you will be able to comfortably surf in. Thicker wetsuits are warmer and the general temperature range per thickness is:

WATER TEMPERATURE RANGERECOMMENDED WETSUIT THICKNESS
18 – 24ºC:0.5 – 2/1mm
16 – 20ºC2- 3/2mm
14 -17ºC3/2 – 4/3mm
11- 14ºC4/3mm
6 – 11ºC5/4mm
6ºC and below6/5+mm

However, all the best wetsuits for surfing should state the temperature range they are suitable for. So the first step to finding the right wetsuit is to check this temperature and make sure it fits the conditions you plan to surf in.

On a slight side note, you will find that most wetsuits are made with two different thicknesses of material. This is because thicker material is less flexible. As a result, areas which need extra mobility (arms and legs) are made with thinner material but the torso will be thicker and warmer.

Material

Wetsuit material is constantly being improved and the days of surfing in woollen jumpers are thankfully long behind us! Neoprene is now the most used wetsuit material. Its stretchy and insulating properties make it the wetsuit material of choice for most of the best surfing wetsuits. Wetsuit companies are always improving the neoprene they use to make it stronger, warmer and more flexible. Some companies offer alternative materials made from environmentally friendly materials such as: natural rubber and limestone neoprene. These are just as good as neoprene but are often on the more expensive side.

Seams

Wetsuits are only as good as their seams. Seams hold the wetsuit together so need to be durable and water tight. This prevents water penetration into your wetsuit and wetsuits with more durable seams will last for longer.
There are three main types of seams:

  • Flatlock stitched seam are generally the least watertight and durable. They are also the most affordable and are found in most entry level wetsuits as well as most 3mm of thinner wetsuits.
  • Blind stitched seams are more watertight than flatlock seams as the stitching doesn’t penetrate all the way through the neoprene. Most mid-range wetsuits use this seam sealing technique.
  • Glued seams are the most watertight and durable but also tend to be the most expensive. The lack of stitching helps to prevent water entering the wetsuit.

Seams can also be taped to improve waterproofing and durability. When you are looking for the best surfing wetsuit for you there will be a trade-off between cost and seam quality.

Fit

The fit of a wetsuit is the most important factor to consider when buying a wetsuit. The better the fit, the more effective they will be. Even if you buy the most advanced wetsuit it won’t be a great wetsuit unless it fits you well. The best wetsuits for surfing are comfortable, flexible and don’t let excess water in. This is only achieved through good fit. Most wetsuits will provide sizing charts to help you choose the right size, but nothing beats trying it on in person.

The wetsuit should fit you snugly and feel comfortable to wear. There should be no excess or baggy areas, and all arm, leg and neck seals should be tight. In the surf baggy areas fill up with excess water and can also fold causing uncomfortable rubbing. Additionally, loose seals let water into your wetsuit and this is particularly bad on cold days when cold water is repeatedly washed through your suit! This is called flushing, and is an experience most surfers want to avoid.

When you first try on a wetsuit it should feel tight because wetsuits stretch in the water and over time. However, the wetsuit should not fit you so tightly that you are uncomfortable, can’t move freely or even breathe! You should have a full range of motion while wearing the wetsuit.

Just remember, it may take some time finding the wetsuit that fits perfectly, but it is well worth it to find the right wetsuit for you.

Surfer in wetsuit carrying board on the beach

Entry type / zip type

How you get into your wetsuit is an ever present design challenge for wetsuit makers. This is due to the large hole that has to be built into the wetsuit to allow entry. Holes are the enemy of wetsuits so different entry types have been created to overcome this problem.

Back zip wetsuits

The most standard entry type is the back zip wetsuit. These wetsuits have a zip down the back, from neck seal to the top of the waist. Typically, back-zip wetsuits are cheaper than their direct competitors. However, the zip reduces the flexibility of the wetsuit and the neck seal is less comfortable as it is split in half.

Chest zip wetsuit

Chest zip wetsuits have been designed to fix these issues as the zip runs across the chest and allows improved flexibility. The neck seal is also one complete piece which makes it more comfortable and creates a better seal. However, they are harder to get in and out of and are normally more expensive.

Zipless chest entry wetsuits

Recently, zipless chest entry wetsuits have been designed and these take flexibility to another level. Without the zip the whole wetsuit is flexible. However, these are some of the most expensive wetsuits available.

Durability

Durability is a really important factor in choosing a good wetsuit. There’s nothing worse than getting into a year old wetsuit and seeing a hole beginning to form. Good wetsuits should last for 2-3 years with frequent use and 3-4 years if used less regularly. Ultimately, the best wetsuit is the one that lasts the longest without compromising on performance.

One of the best ways to find out if a wetsuit is durable is to read reviews. If there are lots of reviews criticising its durability then it probably hasn’t been built to last. Another factor to consider is the seam type. It may be worth spending a little extra for a wetsuit with better seams, especially if it lasts for longer.

Flexibility

The best surfing wetsuit should be so flexible that you shouldn’t be aware that you were wearing it! No-one enjoys being reminded they’re wearing a wetsuit whilst surfing. Therefore, flexibility is crucial in picking the perfect wetsuit. When you put a wetsuit on for the first time you should feel unrestricted and free to move. Practise paddling and popping up on land and make sure nothing is stopping your movements.

Thicker warmer wetsuits are typically less flexible than thinner options. Some wetsuits are designed for maximum flexibility which results in a loss of warmth. Depending on the conditions and your surfing style there is a trade-off between warmth and flexibility.


What to do with your old wetsuit

Now that you know what to look for, the next thing to do, before buying a new wetsuit, is to do something with your old one. First up, do you really need one? Have you tried fixing your old one, sewing up the holes, glueing the seams and replacing the zip? If not, then it’s worth trying this. Either have a go at doing it yourself or take it to your local repair shop and they’ll attempt to fix it for you. If it’s a good shop then they’ll tell you if it’s beyond repair. Even if it gets you through another couple of months in the water, it’s worth it to prevent it from getting trashed before it’s really needed.

Once it’s well and truly ready to leave your life for good, you don’t need to chuck your old wetsuit in the trash. Firstly, check for local initiatives that deal with old neoprene. Some brands may also take wetsuits in for recycling. But failing that, you can send your withered wetsuit to Alpkit who collect them to be repaired, recycled, or repurposed.

DONATE YOUR OLD WETSUIT HERE


The best men’s wetsuits for surfing

Patagonia Men's R3 Yulex Front-Zip Full Suit

Patagonia Men’s R3 Yulex Front-Zip Full Suit

Eco-conscious: Made with 85% Yulex Natural Rubber

Thickness: 4.5/3.5 mm
Recommended water temperature: 9 – 13 ºC
Patagonia’s R3 Yulex front-zip full suit is one of the best winter wetsuits if you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to neoprene. It is designed for colder waters, and for surfers looking for the best quality wetsuits on the market. Made from 85% Yulex natural rubber, with a fast drying thermal microgrid lining in the torso and thigh regions, this wetsuit offers excellent warmth and flexibility. With Supratex cuffs and triple glued and taped seams, this wetsuit is designed to keep any unwanted water out, keeping you warmer for longer. A corrosion proof and replaceable Salmi front-zip extends the lifespan of the suit, and as all Patagonia wetsuits are made from 85% Yulex natural rubber it is a great option for the eco-conscious. However, all of these features come at a cost, and this wetsuit is at the top end of the price range.

Pros

  • Made from 85% natural rubber
  • Replaceable zipper
  • Very warm
  • Quick drying and flexible
  • Triple glued and taped seams

Cons

  • High price
  • Too hot for warmer waters

Find the latest price at:
Patagonia


Vissla 7 Seas 2-2 SS Full Suit

Vissla Men’s 7 Seas 2-2 SS Full Suit

Eco-conscious: Limestone based neoprene

Thickness: 2/2 mm
Recommended water temperature: 17 – 20 ºC
Vissla’s Men’s 7 Seas 2-2 SS full suit is a great wetsuit for surfing in warmer water. Chest-zip entry and the short sleeve design combined with 100% Super Stretch neoprene makes this an incredibly flexible wetsuit. Glideskin neck seals and liquid taped cuffs prevent flushing whilst remaining comfortable at the same time. Additionally, triple glued and double stitched seams prevent unwanted water entry. Despite not being taped for improved durability, these seams are better quality than other similarly priced wetsuits. This wetsuit is perfect for anyone looking for great flexibility whilst still staying warm in moderate water temperature. Anything below 17 0C, however, and you’ll have to cut your surfs short if you want to stay warm.

Pros

  • Very flexible
  • Good quality features for price
  • Short sleeve design improves freedom of movement

Cons

  • Only suitable for moderate water temperatures
  • Lack of taped seams decreases durability

Find the latest price at:
Vissla


Finisterre Men's Nieuwland 3e Yulex Wetsuit

Finisterre Men’s Nieuwland 3e Yulex Wetsuit

Eco-conscious: 85% Yulex Pure Natural Rubber

Thickness: 3.5/2.5 mm
Recommended water temperature: 14 – 18 ºC
Finisterre’s Nieuwland 3e Yulex wetsuit is a top level wetsuit designed for cool water. With a design developed for heat retention and a recycled polyester lining this wetsuit is perfect for surfers looking for flexibility with no compromise on warmth. The Finisterre custom neck design and tension wrist bands prevent flushing, whilst fully taped double blind stitched seams prevent unwanted water entry. However, the lack of a seam sealant means these seams are less waterproof than fully glued seams.
Similar to Patagonia’s wetsuits this suit is made from 85% natural rubber so is a great option for the eco-conscious surfer looking for a high quality warm and flexible wetsuit.

Pros

  • Made from 85% natural rubber
  • Designed for maximum warmth and flexibility
  • Great features including the Finisterre custom neck design

Cons

  • High price
  • Seams aren’t glued

Find the latest price at:
Finisterre


O'NEILL Psycho Tech 43+Mm Chest Zip Full Wetsuit

O’NEILL Men’s Psycho Tech 4/3+Mm Chest Zip Full Wetsuit

Thickness: 4.5/3.5 mm
Recommended water temperature: 10 – 14 ºC
O’Neill’s Psycho Tech chest zip wetsuits are some of the warmest wetsuits available. The 4/3+ is a great wetsuit for cold water surfing and the “+” means O’Neill has added an extra half mm of neoprene all over for extra warmth. Made from O’Neill’s TechnoButter 3 neoprene and with chest and back panels made from heat-generating TechnoButter Air-Firewall, this wetsuit is incredibly warm. Any unwanted water is kept out with a F.U.Z.E closure chest zip, Super Seal cuffs and stitch-less Fluid Seam Weld technology. Wind proof Smoothskin chest and back panels maintain your temperature even in windy conditions and a metal Redzone zipper slider improves durability. All of these features do come at a price making this an expensive wetsuit. Similar in price to the Patagonia Men’s R3 Yulex, the O’NEILL Men’s Psycho Tech 4/3+Mm is less warm but more durable. This is a great wetsuit for cold water surfers looking for top of the range features and great flexibility.

Pros

  • Very warm
  • Great flexibility
  • Durable metal zipper slider
  • Full of great features for improved comfort
  • Stitchless seams

Cons

  • High price
  • Not made from eco-friendly material

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Best women’s wetsuits for surfing

Sisstrevolution Summer Seas 32 BZ Print Full

Sisstrevolution Summer Seas 3/2 Print BZ Full

Eco-conscious: Limestone based neoprene

Thickness: 3/2 mm
Recommended water temperature: 17 – 20 ºC
Sisstrevolution’s Summer Sea’s 3/2 full-suit is a good summer wetsuit for surfers looking for a comfortable, flexible and affordable wetsuit. This suit is designed to be flexible, so it is made from 100% Super Stretch neoprene with a minimal seam design. Anatomically correct seam placement improves comfort and a Glideskin neck seal prevents flushing. A short back-zip reduces water entry and makes the suit easy to put on so you can get into the surf faster! The seams are flatlock stitched so will let in some water but this is less of an issue in summer waters. This is one of the best wetsuits for beginners and is perfect for surfers looking for a mid-range summer wetsuit.

Pros

  • Flexible and comfortable
  • Glideskin neck seal prevents flushing
  • Back-zip allows easy access

Cons

  • Flatlock stitched seams
  • Not suitable for colder conditions

Find the latest price at:
Sisstrevolution


Rip Curl Women's Dawn Patrol 43mm Chest Zip Full Wetsuit

Rip Curl Women’s Dawn Patrol 4/3mm Chest Zip Full Wetsuit

Thickness: 4/3 mm
Recommended water temperature: 9 – 16 0C
Though best worn during the cooler shoulder seasons, this 4/3 chest zip wetsuit is also an ideal option to wear right through the UK summers for ladies who feel the cold. The Dawn Patrol is a much loved model that offers excellent flexibility, warmth and durability thanks to the high quality E5 neoprene. This is paired with a thermal lining for extra cosiness, and reinforced knees for heightened durability. Add to that the strong seams which are taped, glued and blind-stitched, and you’ve got yourself an all round winner of a wetsuit – which is also super stylish – without the expected high price tag.
It fits very snuggly to start with, especially round the neck, but this will loosen a touch with wear.

Pros

  • Thermal lining
  • Taped, glue and blind-stitched seams
  • Super stylish

Cons

  • Not eco-friendly neoprene
  • Fits very snuggly to start with

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


XCEL Womens Axis Hooded 54mm Fullsuit

XCEL Women’s Axis Hooded 5/4mm Fullsuit

Eco-conscious: Japanese Limestone Superprene

Thickness: 5/4 mm
Recommended water temperature: 8 – 12 ºC
XCEL’s Women’s Axis Hooded 5/4 mm wetsuit is a great winter wetsuit for surfers looking to stay warm and cosy in cold conditions. This is one of the warmest of the XCEL wetsuits and one of the best winter wetsuits for surfing. It is made from flexible and light Xcel Superprene with a plush ThermoLite lining in the upper body for added warmth. With a nylon collar and integrated hood this wetsuit will keep you warm and stop any flushing through the neck. Triple glued and blind stitched seams reinforced at stress points. Plus, FusionX tape prevents water from entering the suit to help maintain a comfortable temperature. It offers good value for money compared to similar competitors, and provides a warm and comfortable experience in cold conditions.

Pros

  • Very warm
  • Flexible
  • Hood prevents flushing
  • Reinforced triple glued and blind stitched seams

Cons

  • Hood cannot be removed
  • Too hot for warmer waters

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Roxy 22 mm Syncro Back-Zip Springsuit

Roxy 2/2 mm Syncro Back-Zip Springsuit

Thickness: 2/2 mm
Recommended water temperature: 21 – 23 ºC
Roxy’s 2/2 mm Syncro Back-zip Springsuit is the perfect wetsuit for surfers looking for warmth in warm waters without having to compromise on flexibility. As a shorty wetsuit made from 100% StretchFlight neoprene it is light and flexible and will not restrict movement in the waves. A back-zip entry system keeps things simple and the Hydrowrap neck seal is fully adjustable and watertight. This makes it comfortable while preventing any flushing at the same time. The seams are flatlock stitched so will let in some water but this is less of an issue in warmer conditions. This wetsuit is affordably priced and is perfect for anyone wanting a little warmth and protection in warm water.

Pros

  • Flexible and light
  • Affordably priced
  • Hydrowarp neck seal

Cons

  • Not suitable for temperatures below 21 ºC
  • Flatlock stitched seams

Find the latest price on:
Amazon

About the author

author-tom

Tom Bott grew up on a farm and has been an outdoor fanatic ever since. He is happiest when out on the water as his biggest passions are surfing and sailing. On land he loves hiking and wild camping and will find any excuse to go on an adventure.

Open Menu